Friday, April 28, 2006

Sad day

On Wednesday, Allison started getting a little cramping and began spotting lightly. I looked it up on the web and found out that it could be something benign and could be perfectly natural, but with us being new to this, we decided to call the Doctor anyway. The Dr reassured us that everything was fine since it was light spotting and said that if we wanted to come in for a checkup anyway, that would be ok. So we made an appointment to see her on Thursday morning. Our first sonogram was scheduled for next week on May 2nd, but they decided to go ahead and do one when we came in to make sure everything was ok. It wasn't. The nurse couldn't find a heartbeat and she could tell that the baby's development was a few days short of being just over 10 weeks which is where we were at. My initial excitement at seeing our new baby for the first time was short lived when we realized that it isn't coming to fruition. Of course we then had a good cry and talked our options over with the Doctor. the Dr was very reassuring and had a sensitive bedside manner and was understanding, but I guess she deals with that pretty often. We've heard how common it is to miscarry and we know that we can (and will) try again, but just having the head knowledge still doesn't assuage our disappointment. It's also strange how we have the feelings of guilt when we KNOW we didn't do anything wrong. The doctor also said that's a common feeling when experiencing a loss like this. I guess time heals all wounds.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Adventure Race season has started!

As should be obvious by my profile and previous posts, I LOVE adventure racing. This past Sunday was the first AR of the series for the Blue Hills Adventure Races and fellow Trail Nerd Shane Jones agreed to race with me in them. A quick recap of the previous few days should set the stage for our physical condition at race time. I was in a bike wreck on Tuesday and still had some pretty bad bruising and stitches in my butt and had JUST has some of the parts on my bike replaced. Shane went out on Saturday night to a Counting Crows concert and got hammered and stayed out till well after 1 am KNOWING that I was giving him a wakeup call around 5 am on my way over to pick him up. When I got there, he was ready but not very awake. We drove the 2 hours over to Manhattan, KS and I let him and Allison sleep so that everyone would be fresh when we got there. This time I remembered to eat a sensible meal the night before so as to avoid any stomach issues during the race. Mushroom and Basil Linguine the night before was a touch on the oily side, but didn't cause any GI problems.
When we got there, we checked in and began setting up our gear in the Transition area. As is the case with adv races, you don't get the order of events nor the distances of them until after the race starts. The pre-race meeting went well and we started off with a ride and tie in which Shane started off running while tied to me on the bike. Once getting to the checkpoint, we received more directions on how to proceed throughout the race with a crude map of the course. Most of the teams were still packed together and didn't really start to spread out untill the kayak section. Shane and I took the lead during the trail run but soon fell behind in the kayak section. This leg was miserable because our inflatable boat had a leak in it and we were taking on water while losing air. We had 10 teams pass us on this part so we knew we had our work cut out for us. After the kayak section we hit the bike and I discovered that my rear shock was blown. It wouldn't hold air. (a fact that I SHOULD have noticed before this race) This was also a result of the wreck I had on Tuesday but just overlooked it when getting the other parts repaired. I pumped it up as best I could but it wouldn't hold any PSI and therefore my bike was sagging and VERY inefficient for the whole ride. As if that weren't to be uncomforatble enough, I also had to sit sideways on the seat due to the 6 stitches still holding my left butt cheek together. Luckily, Shane was a VERY stong biker and he was able to pull me along nicely. I drafted off him for much of the ride. Now THAT'S teamwork! During the ride, we encountered 2 different "special tests" that we had to successfully complete to avoid a time penalty. We aced both of them and each time passed several teams ahead of us gaining ground on the leaders. We finished up finishing in second place overall which is MUCH better than I expected to do in our condition. if you want to read more about the race, you can read my report. Shane and I won this race last year and I was hoping to repeat, but I'm still very happy with our effort and we still got to bring home some hardware.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Need the right frame of mind!

Most people think I'm in a psychotic frame of mind for even thinking about doing this adventure race after this injury on Tuesday. No matter. I know my body and even more importantly, I know how I react to things that I know I could've or should've done. Regrets are to be avoided at all costs to me and I never have regrets about physical injuries to myself. Anyway, what I need to do is to put myself in the correct frame of mind so that I'm not pushing TOO hard nor am I expecting too much out of my injured self for this race on Sunday. Let's hope that the physical toll I'll pay for DOING this one is less than the mental/emotional I paid for NOT doing another one some time ago. (long story)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

a little setback on training...

Tuesday afternoon, I went out to the park to get some strength training in on the bike before running with the Trail Nerds. After doing a loop in the trails, I hit the paved trail for a quick lap around the park and to work the hills on that paved loop. Halfway into it, I was going too fast on one of the downhills and wiped out on a curve. I was going 31 MPH on my mtn bike and would've made the turn (like many times before) if I didn't have to try to avoid hitting a lady who was out walking. It's not her fault. I was going way too fast to be safely in control with other people on that trail so it's my own stupidity that caused my wreck. I laid the bike down while on the brakes and slid off the trail right into a tree which crushed my chainrings and the impact caused my seatpost to snap. Realizing that my bike wasn't able to be ridden out of there, I had to slowly and painfully walk it out 2 more miles back to the parking lot. From there, I went home, changed clothes into something more comfortable and went to the Emergency Room where I had a nice wait. 6 and a half hours later, I got to go home with a few stitches and lots of gauze. While there, I had to get my neck, pelvis, and ribs x-rayed, but thankfully nothing was broken. The ribs are VERY sore now and probably will be for the race on Sunday. It's a good thing I have a spare bike or I might have to miss out on it. Even though I'll be quite a bit slower than planned, I'm still doing this race the best I can.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A little more on service...

Service is nothing more than a form of giving. Maybe the best form of giving, but that's not to be debated here. One of my favorite books of all time is The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. I think I like it so much because it's short (matching my attention span) and very easy to understand. To me, the philosophy in it seems somewhat Existentialist with a touch of Buddhism, but is good for interpersonal relationships nonetheless. In this book one of my favorite chapters is on Giving.

"And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives. Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity..."

This isn't saying to accept without any gratitude nor is it suggesting that one should be a receiver or a gift without having any sense of debt, but rather to understand that giving and receiving should not be a contractual binding of giver and receiver in equal measure. Whether you equate it to the movie Pay It Forward or consider it your civic duty, everyone should experience being a giver and a receiver when the opposite is not reciprocated. It's nice to be appreciated for the effort and work you put into something but just because you may not be appreciated or thanked for something doesn't mean that it was any less of a good deed. And on the receiving end, to be the recipient of someone's kindness is a gift itself whether you realize it or not. You're giving them the opportunity to be of service so although one should be aware of the need to give back, you should not "be overmindful of your debt" to the giver. I've had people who are indeed thankful for help I've given them on projects and they repeatedly thank me and ask how they can repay me for my kindness, but all I want is for them to say a simple sincere thank you and be willing to repay it with their own effort somewhere else in likewise manner. If I need help, perhaps one day I'll be the recipient of it. If not, I'll continue giving regardless.
Another example of this is in the Bible. John 13:4-17 shows us how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. This man was their teacher, their mentor, and the washing of feet was a lowly task given to servants so for Jesus to humble himself was an example servanthood he wanted his followers to emulate.

Family Biz and philosophy?

Allison's sister came to visit us last Thursday from North Carolina. I really like having family and/or friends come to see us because it's so rare. Most everyone expects us to go everywhere else to see them instead of them coming to where we live. I realize it's not very convenient for family or friends to visit us anymore now that we live in Kansas, but we really appreciate it when they do. Of course, it's also harder for family and/or friends to make the trip to see us when there's kids to consider because that complicates traveling and we understand that. We'll be getting an even better understanding of that very soon now that we're going to be joining the ranks of parenthood ourselves! Yup! That's right, I'm gonna be a Daddy! Allison told me about 3 weeks ago and we told my family on our last trip to Pensacola and they were all really happy for us. I think some of my family had given up on us since we've been married for over 12 years now and they all know how much of a kid I am they all figured we'd decided not to have them. But.... here we are. I'll be honest, it really scares me because I know things are going to change completely. That's scary because I really like the way things are now. I like our relationship and our ability to be spontaneous. I like having time and money to train and travel and go out to eat often. I like a lot of things that I know are going to change and that scares me.
But at the same time, I'm excited about it for several reasons. As might be pretty evident by all the mentionings of "I" above, I do recognize many selfish characteristics of our current life that will have to be relinquished. As awful as this may seem to many people, I cherish this idea somewhat because I have experienced firsthand the value and sense of reward that accompanies putting something else in life ahead of yourself and your own selfish desires. Many people understand some of the little values of self discipline.
1. controlling your diet for health reasons
2. being disciplined in training to reach goals
3. being disciplined financially to reach goals (saving money)

These are small examples of when people make their own selfish wants second to a higher purpose. Even though I know I'll still yearn for the days when I could do my own thing, I know that the benefits of putting my selfishness aside for the benefit of my wife and my child will reap rewards that I can't imagine (and probably don't deserve). Many people may read this and roll their eyes and say that parenthood causes instinct to kick in and it won't be viewed as selflessness and they're certainly entitled to their own opinion. The main point to this poorly worded babble is that I encourage everyone to engage in some form of (sacrificial) service to others. It's not a "good deed" if you get something other than a good feeling in return. Giving money may be necessary and helpful, but it's so impersonal that it rarely yields any personal satisfaction and thus isn't repeated often. What I'm advocating is giving of yourself, your time and your own personal effort to something for which you'll get nothing in return. Get out and volunteer! It's very liberating! The harder it is to do, the more it's worth it! And THAT'S how I'm trying to get myself psyched up for parenthood! Thoughts?

Red Bridge Ramble and GETTING READY!!!

Saturday was the Red Bridge Ramble out at Minor Park in Kansas City, MO. The Trail Nerds run at Minor Park regularly later in the summer because it doesn't get infested with tics like some of the other parks. Instead of rehashing my whole race, I'll let Bad Ben's report suffice.

The 2006 version of the Red Bridge Ramble (KCMO) is now history. The weather on race day was absolutely perfect, and everyone that showed up to run were in good spirits. Forty-five runners entered, which surpassed last year's participation by 300%! We had quite a few newbie trailrunners who were "chomping at the bit" to get their feet wet (literally).

The race course is on the unpaved Blue River Parkway trail system. It crosses the Blue River 4 times and has a variety of different kinds of terrain to run on, which includes: wooded, rocky & rooty trails, open grassland, twisty single-track, and flat, fast dirt trails.

Caleb Chatfield, of Merriam Kansas ripped through the course in 54:58. Veteran trailrunner Kyle Amos followed in 2nd place at 57:02. Lightning-fast trail-newbie Susie Scheer took third overall, and first female in 1:00:45! Following them to round-out the top five were Rich McNally and Jeff Behrens. Second and third-place females were Angela Ballard and Rachel Westendorf.

A few awards were given out, including two to James Barker. He won the "lost completely beyond all possible reason" award, and the award for "most ticks." He also took a very good "competitive fall," (which I witnessed), but was surpassed in that department by Jeff "Trail Rash" Behrens. (I still owe you an award, Jeff).

Note: We had a slight timing device issue, so most of the times were off by a small margin. The order of finish is very accurate, though.

Special thanks to the volunteers:
Markos Jacquez - who helped mark the course with me (the night before the race until 10 p.m.), by actually running it.
Kyle Amos, Ben Reeves, and Caleb Chatfield - who helped un-mark the course.
Dave Suptic and a helper - Registration & finish line.
Lou Joline - half-way water station and starting line food.

Order of Finish
1 54:58 Caleb Chatfield M
2 57:02 Kyle Amos M
3 1:00:45 Susie Scheer F
4 Rich McNally M
5 Jeff Behrens M
6 "Good" Ben Reeves M
7 Jason Crosby M
8 Stuart Johnson M
9 Frederick Menninger M
10 Angela Ballard F
11 Eric Otte M
12 Rachel Westendorf F
13 Aubrey Appleman F
14 Charlotte Barksdale F
15 Emily Horn F
16 Kent Baker M
17 "Bad" Ben Holmes M
18 Deb Johnson F
19 Sherry Sehring F
20 Dave Rowell M
21 Mona Latimer F
22 Allison Baker F
23 Jonette Kilmar F
24 Gregg Lynn M
25 Kevin Maggard M
26 Christina Sipu F
27 Philip Wharton M
28 Kevin O'Sullivan M
29 Don Little M
30 Sophia Wharton F
31 Dave Hoefer M
32 Paula Keltner F
33 1:38:06 Lou Joline M
34 Hazel Mattews F
35 1:39:00 Susan Robinette F
36 Mary Donahue F
37 Anne Cook F
38 Bob Cook M
39 Beth Hilt F
40 Verna Troutman F
41 Jackie Defoe F
42 Gregory Mattews M
43 Steve Mattews M
44 Laura Gawecki F
45 James Barker M

I posted a few photos at:
Dick Ross took some great shots and has them on his website at:
His photos will probably be posted also (soon) at the KC Star website at:

Happy trails,

Ben Holmes
Race Director

I did have a few additions to make for this race. For some reason, I can't get it through my head to eat a sensible meal the night before a race so this time I had Chipotle which I can never turn down, but suffice it to say, it's NOT a smart pre-race meal! Also, I think I'd have pulled in 3rd or 4th overall if I hadn't needed to get up close and personal with nature during the run, but all runners know that's a part of being a runner. IT HAPPENS! Even with those episodes (2 stops in the woods) I still managed to complete the 8 mile trail run in 65 minutes so I figured my actual running time was probably closer to 7:30 miles. That was a really fun run to race and it was my first time to see those trails in the daylight. The night group runs are the only other time I've ever been out there so it was a cool new experience for me!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Good weekend with the family

This past weekend, Allison and I went to Pensacola, FL to visit my family. We hadn't seen them in a little over 8 months and Allison was needing to see her nieces and nephews. While there, we decided to get in a little 5k run called the Hawkshaw Lagoon 5k which benefits organizations for missing children. For this run, I decided to pace my 16 yr old niece and see how she runs. She's been getting into running for the past few months and I was hoping to be able to give her a few tips. She has a great stride and she impressed me with the effort she put forth. Even when I was pushing her, she didn't try to quit and she kept giving her best effort. She had a personal best time in the 5k taking second place in her age group with a time of 28:46. This was the first time she had ever broken a 30 minute 5k and she was very happy with her performance. I was so proud of her. When she saw the the girl who beat her only beat her time by 1 minute she exclaimed, "I could've run a minute faster!" I hate that we live so far apart. It would be really fun if we could run together. She's a really cool girl and I wish I could be more of a part of her growing up. In the picture, from left to right, it's Alexis, Allison, my sister Ruth, and me.
Sunday we went out on my brother-in-law's boat and I had a brain fart and forgot to put on sunscreen. I now have a bit of sun poisoning on my chest and stomach and some sore shoulders. Even with the burns, I went out last night to my favorite park for some biking and running to work out some of the alcohol and fried foods that I polluted my system with over the last weekend. Rode for about 2.5 hours before running for 40 minutes in the trails. During the ride, the legs were complaining as I worked some crap out of my system and tried to get back in the groove. Didn't find a whole lot of energy in them, but I got in some good hill work and technical work in the trails on the bike and run.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Fun Duathlon

Did another duathlon on Saturday and had a blast! Allison and I agreed to help out Cowtown Cycling with getting the God's Country Duathlon together. We got out there around 7:20 and started helping set up and get the registration tent in order. Allison did the running and I did the biking. Ever since she broke her ankle on a mountain bike 5 years ago, she refuses to get back on one. :-( There were 5 teams in the relay division and over 200 entrants in the duathlon overall. Once Allison came in and tagged me to head out on the bike, we were in the middle to back-middle of the pack. Having not done the run, my legs were fresher than most of the bikers I was chewing up on the trail. This was a very fast non-technical trail and I had some new tires that I was trying out. They did great and I was only passed by one biker. Fellow Cowtown teammate (and elite cyclist) Damian Almanza passed me 2/3rds of the way through the first 9 mile loop and I wasn't able to get around some other bikers in time to get on his wheel to hang on. A few riders were unsure of trail ettiquette and their ability and if uncertainty strikes them while I'm in the middle of a pass, then keeping the rubber side down can be difficult. This was a good training race and we ended up getting third in the relay division due to some fast runners overtaking Allison in the last two mile run. This was the last race I'd planned on doing before the Adventure Race season kicks off in a few weeks.
This coming weekend, we're headed to Pensacola, FL to visit my family for a long weekend and we'll get in a little 5k charity run while there.